Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 17 April 2012 - 07:44pm IST
Preview: Match 22 – KXIP v KKR
Confident KXIP host KKR in return fixture in Mohali
Kings XI Punjab held their nerves to beat the Kolkata Knight Riders in their own backyard on April 15. Three days later the roles have reversed; this time Adam Gilchrist and his team play host to Gautam Gambhir and co.
KXIP have a 50 percent record so far this season, having won two of their four matches. They will want to make the most of the familiarity that comes with playing at home.
Kolkata Knight Riders – a very formidable unit on paper – haven’t quite put on the show that was expected from them. They’ve only won two games out of five so far, and they’ll be keen to settle scores with KXIP after losing the home fixture.
Wednesday, April 18, 2011, 08:00 p.m.
Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali
KXIP skipper Adam Gilchrist has so far had a silent tournament by his standards. The Australian, who is also the coach, wicketkeeper and opening batsman of his team, needs to start firing at the top of the order. The southpaw has so far managed 59 runs in four innings; and him not contributing is certainly hurting his team.
KXIP’s decision to promote David Hussey up the order in the previous match was a welcome move; the Australian is the top run-getter in Twenty20 cricket and has the temperament to adjust to varying situations.
Also look out for Azhar Mahmood who has joined the KXIP squad. The Pakistan cricketer is among the more experienced cricketers in this format, and he could add value to the team – thanks to his powerful hitting skills and for his skiddy medium pace bowling on what is likely to be a seamer-friendly surface.
Gautam Gambhir was very critical of his team’s middle order after they failed to chase down 135 in the previous match. “I'm not happy with the form of the middle order. There are some experienced players who need to start taking responsibility. Otherwise strong decisions need to be taken,” the KKR skipper had said after that defeat.
The biggest disappointment for KKR has been the form of their biggest match-winner, Yusuf Pathan. The elder Pathan – who is capable of winning matches single-handedly – has looked far from the explosive batsmen he’s known to be and has only managed 23 runs in five innings (at a dismal strike-rate of 74.19). Despite his reputation, Yusuf finds himself in the perform-or-perish zone, and this could be his last opportunity. He is likely to come out firing all cylinders.
Sunil Narine has come to be known as somewhat of a mystery bowler. The Trinidadian, who picked up five wickets in the previous match, has been very difficult to pick. He is mixing the various kinds of deliveries in his armory, and has left many batsmen bewildered. It will be interesting to see if the KXIP batsmen have done their homework, and if they manage to pick him this time round.
There’s very little to choose between the teams on the basis of their previous meetings. Kings XI Punjab and the Kolkata Knight Riders have so far met on eight occasions, and both teams have won four contests apiece. Even in their meetings at Mohali, there’s nothing that separates them – KXIP won their home fixture in the inaugural season, while KKR came up trumps in their meeting in the 2010 season.
KXIP’s David Hussey is the most-capped Twenty20 cricketer in the world; he has appeared in 175 Twenty20 matches.
KXIP's Azhar Mahmood has 16 Man of the Match awards in Twenty20 cricket. Only Brad Hodge - with 18 awards - has won more
Kings XI Punjab will play their second home game in 48 hours when they take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 20. Meanwhile, the Kolkata Knight Riders will be out of action for the rest of the week and will next be seen in action on April 22 when they take on the Deccan Chargers in Cuttack.